Monday, 13 March 2017

Brackenhurst Ringing Demonstration, Wednesday 8 March

Jim, Kev, Esther, Erin and myself set out on a relatively mild morning, later accompanied by Lorna and Simon. Again, the feeders had been completely emptied by squirrels a couple of days earlier but had been topped up prior to the ringing demo. As usual, we set up nets at both the ringing site and Orwin’s field. The morning started off at a fairly leisurely pace but we were kept busy all morning with a constant supply of birds and interested students.

We caught 61 birds of 9 species, as follows (new/retrap): Dunnock 2/0, Robin 0/1, Goldcrest 1/1, Blue Tit 1/3, Great Tit 2/2, House Sparrow 2/0, Chaffinch 2/0, Yellowhammer 29/13, Reed Bunting 2/0.

It was a decent catch of Yellowhammers and of note were a couple of that were 6 years old, one of which was first ringed in 2011 as an adult. The two Goldcrests were a male and female together (presumably a pair).

Finally, we were treated to Simon’s award-winning lemon and lime drizzle cake – delicious!


 (all photos by L. Griffiths)

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Sutton Bonington, Saturday 4 March

Duncan, Gary and I netted the feeding site this morning. The last couple of visits have produced very few birds despite the hoppers being emptied of seed quickly. We discovered by removing nets and watching the feeders there are plenty of birds coming in but as soon as nets are erected the ‘openness’ of the site makes the nets too visible and puts the birds off. This proved to be the same this morning.

The weather was good but birds caught were few, despite plenty of Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting coming in as soon as the nets were down. Weather permitting the next visit will see whoosh nets being deployed!  We ended with 18 birds including 5 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Song Thrush 1/0, Wren 1/1, Long-tailed Tit 1/0, Goldcrest 1/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Yellowhammer 5/4, Reed Bunting 3/0. The oldest retraps were from last winter.


Heron caught on camera

An Attenborough ringed Grey Heron was recently caught by a camera trap in Northamptonshire. Trap operator, Keith Walkling, said: “I get a bit of an influx of herons at this time of year, when the frogs start to appear, although there is no nesting colony on site. Peak numbers would be 8 - 10 although there always seems to be 1 or 2 about. The nearest colony would probably be at Eyebrook reservoir, about 5 or 6 miles to the north and there is one to the south at Titchmarsh BCN Wildlife Trust Reserve. I keep a couple of trail cameras on site all year round so will let you know if I get it again. Coincidentally our local BCN group had a very interesting talk in November given one of your colleagues, Nigel Slater, and our plan is to visit Attenborough some time soon.”

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Brackenhurst Ringing Demo, Monday 13 February

We had a good team out for this event: Jim, Kev, Gary, Louise, Erin, Lorna and I set up at first light in pretty chilly and slightly windy conditions. Quite a few birds were around, although catching was rarely anything more than steady. This suited us though as we also had a steady stream of undergraduate students coming to see what we do and learn a little about ringing. Many were on environmental courses and they were an appreciative audience.

We ringed 28 birds of 6 species, comprising (new/retrap): Dunnock 0/3, Robin 0/2, Blackbird 1/0, Blue Tit 5/3, Great Tit 2/2, Yellowhammer 9/1. The oldest retrap of the morning was a Robin ringed in November 2015.

By about 10 o'clock, the sun came out and the breeze stiffened a little and the capture rate plummeted. There were still good numbers of birds in the general area though, with perhaps 50 or so Yellowhammers hanging about. Over 100 Fieldfare were also moving around the nearby fields, both Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers were heard (the latter drumming), a few Siskin came over and 2 Woodcock were flushed from marshy grassland on the edge of a copse. Highlight of the morning was probably the flock of 7 Whooper Swans that flew over heading north.


All photos by Lorna Griffiths

Brackenhurst, Monday 6 February

Jim and myself set out on a very cold morning with Rebecca coming along to watch. Despite the feeders being empty and lots of squirrels hanging around, the morning started off very busily with a good number of birds. Then suddenly things dropped off around 10am, and as we were freezing cold (note the icicles on Jim's Landy!) we packed up.

We caught 41 birds of 7 species as follows (new/retrap): Dunnock 1/2, Robin 2/7, Blackbird 3/0, Blue Tit 2/1, Great Tit 3/5, Chaffinch 1/2, Yellowhammer 8/4.

The oldest retrap was a Robin ringed in January 2013 and we also caught both Blue and Great Tits ringed in November 2014. This was also the last ringing outing for Jim's beloved Landy - it has been on many adventures, and involved in countless scrapes, but we all loved it! Hopefully the new one will be just as useful.


 all photos by Jim Lennon

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

3 Days at Sutton Bonington

Alex, Sue, Gary and I netted the feeding site again this morning. There was a slight frost to start with but it was clear and still, clouding up later. Catching was fairly steady throughout but still no large numbers despite the cold week we had just had and the seed in the hoppers being consumed swiftly. We ended with 31 birds including 16 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Fieldfare 1/0, Blackbird 0/1, Dunnock 0/3, Robin 0/6, Great Tit 1/1, Blue Tit 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 0/1, Goldcrest 1/0, Goldfinch 1/1, Chaffinch 0/1, Yellowhammer 5/1, Reed Bunting 3/1. The oldest retraps were from last winter.

Gary and I, along with Lucy from York netted the copse at the dairy farm site this morning. No frost today but overcast and misty at times. As we walked to the copse first thing we had both Barn and Tawny Owl fly in front of us. Catching started fairly briskly for this small site but dropped off later. We ended with 26 birds processed including 10 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/0, Wren 1/0, Robin 0/3, Great Tit 1/2, Blue Tit 2/5, Chaffinch 11/0. The oldest retraps were from last autumn. We have generally noticed an increase at all sites over the last couple of years of ‘scaly leg’ in Chaffinch. Today saw it reach a new level, we ringed 11 Chaffinch but had to let 12 go un-ringed because they were suffering from the condition!

Lucy, Duncan, Gary and I netted the sewage treatment plant this morning. The day started with breeze and light rain that had us hanging around for a break so that we could put the nets up. It did stop raining after a while and we eventually put up 4 nets although 3 of them were being caught by the breeze quite a bit. Not long after 1030 it started to rain again, sharply this time and forced us to finish early. Catching was slow but we did manage to catch a couple of Pied Wagtails and get samples from them – a prime target species as they feed directly from the filter beds. A surprise in the net on the last round was a Chiffchaff. We ended with 10 birds including 1 retrap made up of (new/retrap): Pied Wagtail 2/0, Wren 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 5/0, Goldcrest 0/1, Chiffchaff 1/0. The retrap was from the last visit.


Thursday, 26 January 2017


Group member Louise Gentle and her colleagues recently had a letter published about the Peregrines in Nottingham in the Journal of Raptor Research. it is reproduced below. Click on each page for a better view.

Recent ringing at Brackenhurst


Jim, Duncan, Simon, Lorna, Erin and myself put 2 mist nets up near Home Farm at Brack in the hope of trapping House Sparrows to PIT tag. The PIT tags are integrated into plastic leg rings, very similar to colour rings, that are positioned on the left leg of the bird. Once the tag is in place the birds identity can be recognised by electronic ‘readers’ which can be positioned at bird feeders or in nest boxes. As part of a long-term project monitoring House Sparrows at Nottingham Trent University we are hoping to monitor them coming to bird feeders to look at aspects of feeding ecology such as frequency and timing of visits in relation to environmental conditions, and dominance interactions. They are notoriously difficult to trap in mist nets (unless they live in Jim’s back garden!) and even harder to re-trap, but hopefully we will PIT tag enough to give us an insight into their behaviour.

We ended up catching 6 House Sparrows and a lot of tits – not too bad really! Numbers (new/retrap) were: Dunnock 3/1, Robin 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 7/0, Blue Tit 19/1, Great Tit 10/1 and House Sparrow 5/1. The highlight was the retrapped House Sparrow that was originally ringed as a nestling about 30 metres away in 2013.


Jim, Kev, Gary, Duncan and myself put nets up at Brackenhurst down by the feeders. Although the feeders were empty when we arrived, lots of birds had been spotted feeding at the site the afternoon before. It was another very cold morning, so a good catch was made. Numbers (new/retrap) were: Dunnock 0/1, Robin 2/2, Blackbird 0/1, Blue Tit 3/2, Great Tit 3/2, House Sparrow 5/0, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Chaffinch 1/2 and Yellowhammer 18/4 (which always seem to appear in larger numbers after Christmas). The highlight was a Yellowhammer ringed as an adult in 2013.


Another cold morning - Jim, Esther and I put 3 mists nets up near Home Farm to try to trap more House Sparrows. We had a slightly later start of 9am but this doesn’t seem to affect the House Sparrow catch as they appear to have a lie-in until then anyway! We had another good catch of tits, and didn’t do too badly with the sparrows either – slowly does it! Numbers (new/retrap) were: Dunnock 2/3, Robin 3/0, Long-tailed Tit 4/6, Blue Tit 9/7, Great Tit 1/1 and House Sparrow 8/1. The highlight was a Blue Tit that was ringed as a juvenile bird at the ringing site in 2010!

House Sparrow with PIT tag (L. Gentle)

Monday, 23 January 2017

Recent Recoveries

Only one Barn Owl this time - a female bird that was ringed in 2010 in Girton. She has been retrapped 6 times now, either at Girton (though in a different box to the original ringing site), or over the river in Sutton-on-Trent, which was the case this time round when North Notts RG recaptured her on 22 June last year.

Two Canada Geese from the Nottingham University research project have been found by Tom, still going strong. N66 and 28N were both found by the river at Trent Bridge on 18 September 2016. Both had been ringed as adults in July the same year.

Also at Trent Bridge amongst the many Black-headed gulls, were a couple of ringed birds, seen on 31 December. The first, J8TN, is the returning Norwegian bird that has been noted 3 times now since the winter of 2014/15. It was ringed in Norway in 2013 as an adult. The other bird had its metal ring read in the field, and was originally ringed as a chick at Thorne Moor, South Yorks in 2002, so will be celebrating its 15th birthday this year!

Some Passerine recoveries have come in too:

A Robin, ringed in Jim's Sibthorpe garden in December last year, was found dead in the village, having been killed by a cat, on 4 January.

A Reed Bunting, ringed by Ian Blackmore in Cropwell Butler in 2014, has been retrapped by ringer Ian Kirton in Cropwell Bishop, in December.

Three Lesser Redpoll were controlled at Bestwood in November. Of two caught on 8th, one had been ringed the previous month at Clumber and the other in Brandon, Suffolk back in March. The third bird, controlled on the 15th, had been ringed just 15 days previously, at Bevercotes Mine in the north of the county.

Finally, a Chiffchaff, ringed as a juvenile at Ramsdale Golf club in July 2015, has been recaptured by French ringers in the south-west of the country in Messange, in October last year (see map).


 Chiffchaff movement (map prepared by M. Pearson)

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 22 January

Alex, Gary and I netted the feeding site this morning. We were joined by Edward Winfield who came along to see what ringing was all about. It was –3 Celsius when we got to the site and only +2C when we left, so a cold and mostly overcast morning with the breeze picking up a little about 0930 to add to the wind chill!

We put up the usual nets plus an additional net near the Pheasant feeder at the other end of the field. Catching was steady throughout and better than recent visits but still no large numbers despite the freezing conditions.

We ended with 42 birds including 21 retraps made up of (new/retrap): Blackbird 1/1, Dunnock 2/9, Robin 6/4, Great Tit 0/2, Blue Tit 1/2, Goldcrest 0/1, Goldfinch 6/0, Chaffinch 1/2, Yellowhammer 3/0, House Sparrow 1/0. The oldest retraps were from last winter.


 House Sparrow (A. Phillips)

Monday, 9 January 2017

Sutton Bonington, Sunday 8 January

Sue, Duncan, Gary and I netted the feeding site this morning. The sky was mostly overcast and there was no breeze at all, it was about 5 degrees when we started and 10 degrees when we left. There seemed few birds about and the first net round produced no birds at all (apart from a Fieldfare that jumped out of the net as we approached). An ominous sign and strange as the seed in the feeders had gone down quite a bit since I topped them up only 5 days earlier. Strangely the catching rate started to pick up in the second half of the morning with 13 of only 17 birds caught being after 1000.

The catch was made up of (new/retrap): Robin 0/1, Great Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Greenfinch 2/0, Goldfinch 9/0, Chaffinch 2/0, House Sparrow 1/0. The retrap was from the last visit and the House Sparrow a new species for the feeding site.

There were quite a few birds visiting a pheasant feeder at the other end of the field, maybe because this did not have nets set next to it – but it will have on the next visit!

There were plenty of Yellowhammer, Fieldfare and Redwing around but the best sighting of the morning was a pair of Grey Partridge that spent some time in the field quite close to our base.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Grey Heron sighting

A bird ringed as a chick at Attenborough on 10 June 2013 has been seen in Dovedale, Staffs, on 5 December 2016. The same bird was also seen at Carsington Water, Derbs in April 2015. This is now the oldest reported bird from the project.

 Sightings of Grey Heron 1507012 (map prepared by M. Pearson)

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Brackenhurst, Wednesday 28 December

As often happens there was a cold snap betwixt Christmas and New Year. Duncan, Kev, Tom and I took advantage of this on the 28th. It was still and frosty when we arrived before dawn and freezing fog came down at nine, but soon to be replaced by bright sunshine ‘til we left.

The first net round produced about 30 birds; mainly Redwing and Yellowhammer. The latter formed nearly half of the catch with the oldest retrap being a bird from just over six years ago; this Yellowhammer had not been caught between times. The old birds often show up at the feeders in cold weather, and we also had Yellowhammers from 2013 (2), 2014 and 2015 (2). The oldest bird retrapped was a Chaffinch from 2009. As with Yellowhammers, Robins are apt to show up at the feeders in cold weather and we processed 10 birds with retraps from 2013, 2014 and 2015. Its almost like the older, more experienced birds know where to look for food when its cold!

The total number of birds processed was 87 (54 new/33 retrap), comprising: Dunnock 0/1; Robin 5/5; Blackbird 3/1; Fieldfare 1/0; Redwing 7/0; Blue Tit 2/6; Great Tit 1/8; Treecreeper 0/1; Chaffinch 5/1; Yellowhammer 30/10.


  A frosty dawn at Brack (Tom Shields)

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

News of Professor Nabegh

I suspect like many of you, the pile of bird magazines and journals tends to back up and as a result I've only just picked up the September issue of the BirdLife International magazine. Entitled 'The War Issue' it features a whole host of interviews with conservationists working in war zones. And who should stare out at me from the very first piece? Our very own Nabegh! I've quickly photographed the pages and uploaded them below. If you click on them you should just about be able to read them. It's a fantastic piece and great to hear more of Nabegh's other life.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A week at Sutton Bonington

We have spent four mornings ringing at Sutton Bonington between last Sunday to this Sunday. The weather has been good for mist netting throughout, but far too warm to draw birds into the feeders so we ended with very few birds to show for our efforts. The week went as follows:

Sunday 11th - Sue, Duncan, Gary and I netted the usual feeding site. The sky was overcast and only a slight breeze blowing but it was far from cold. It was obvious from the start that there were not many birds around and we ended with a catch of just 12 birds including 4 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Wren 1/0, Robin 1/1, Blackbird 2/0, Great Tit 1/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 0/3, Goldcrest 1/0, Chaffinch 1/0. The oldest retraps were from last winter.

Tuesday 13th – The first of two morning sessions working with Kate, Sophia and Lucy from York University on the antimicrobial resistance project. Gary, Kate and Lucy set nets in the arboretum area whilst Duncan, Sophia and I headed to the dairy farm. It was a very overcast morning with a slight breeze and the odd spot of drizzle. This time both sites had got full feeders to catch around but the mild weather meant the birds were not exactly queuing to get to them. At the dairy farm we ended with just 5 birds including 2 retraps. Gary and his team did rather better at the arboretum with 20 birds including 2 retraps and a new Nuthatch. Grand totals for the day made up of (new/retrap): Robin 2/1, Song Thrush 1/0, Blackbird 4/0, Great Tit 6/0, Blue Tit 3/2, Nuthatch 1/0, Goldcrest 2/1, Bullfinch 2/0. The retraps were all recently ringed birds. Kate and her team then treated us to lunch at the local pub.

Wednesday 14th – Duncan, Gary, Kate, Sophia, Lucy and I set nets in the sewage treatment plant, a site that the group used to use about 30 years ago. I was a little apprehensive about what we might catch as the outside temperature showing on my car as I set off from home at 0630 was +10degC. This apprehension was not eased as we took our first walk around the site in the half light and watched a bat flying around! We set 10 nets around the site including covering 2 sets of feeders but the catching was very slow. The wagtails were all feeding in the surrounding fields and there were no Starlings or corvids coming into the site. We did have a couple of Goldcrest around the base so we put up a hand supported net, mp3 etc. and caught those easily. The rest of the nets were just not producing much and with the sun coming out there were insects everywhere. We ended with catch of just 12 birds all new, made up of: Robin 2, Blackbird 1, Great Tit 3, Blue Tit 2, Goldcrest 2, Chaffinch 1 and a single Green Woodpecker. As I drove home in the sunshine it was 13 degrees.

Sunday 18th - Sue, Duncan, Alex, Gary and I netted the usual feeding site. Again the sky was overcast and there was no breeze at all, it was about 2 degrees when we started. Little was around again and we ended with a catch of just 16 birds including 12 retraps, made up of (new/retrap): Wren 0/1, Robin 1/1, Dunnock 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Great Tit 1/2, Blue Tit 1/1, Long-tailed Tit 0/4, Goldfinch 0/1, Chaffinch 1/0. The oldest retraps were from last winter.

I guess we need some cold weather to improve the catch.


 Nuthatch (G. Goddard)